When many people in North Carolina hear stories of illnesses caused by exposure to asbestos, they think how fortunate they are that asbestos danger is well behind us. After all, very few industries in the U.S. include asbestos in their products, and the government has careful regulations and restrictions on its use. Unfortunately, this is a myth.
While there are some limitations on where and how certain industries may use asbestos, no formal ban exists in the U.S. Even if the government would impose a ban, you may not realize how prevalent asbestos already is in your world. Additionally, more and more items for everyday use in America come from countries that have few, if any, safeguards against asbestos.
Exposure on the job
Asbestos exposure can result in deadly forms of cancer, including mesothelioma, if you inhale or ingest the microscopic particles. Nearly 3,000 people die annually, and many more suffer from the devastating side effects of these diseases. Despite the reduction in the use of asbestos in the U.S., new cases of mesothelioma and related diseases remain steady each year.
The front line workers, those who mine the mineral and manufacture with it, carry the greatest risk. Those also at high risk work as insulators and shipbuilders, among other professions. Finally, construction and building restoration, vehicle repair, and pipe fitting are among the trades that involve asbestos hazards. Employers who fail to take the necessary precautions to contain asbestos particles and minimize the exposure of workers may gamble with their employees’ lives.
Danger in everyday life
Even if you do not work in these industries, you may be exposed to asbestos in these ways:
- Older homes built before the 1980s may contain asbestos flooring, roof shingles, siding, pipes and other items.
- If you restore old vehicles, including cars, boats or planes, you risk exposure.
- Vintage kitchenware often contains asbestos.
- You may work in or near an old building that has been restored or renovated, which often stirs up asbestos particles.
- If you live or work near the site of the demolition of an older building, you may be breathing in airborne asbestos particles.
- A family member who works around asbestos may carry the deadly particles home on his or her clothing.
- Purchasing products online or from overseas may mean you do not know the standards for manufacturing.
Tracing a mesothelioma diagnoses to the point of exposure is often challenging since the disease may remain dormant for decades. However, this step is critical for determining whether someone’s negligence was the cause of the suffering of you or a loved one.